Arkansas Department of Education Foster Child Categorically Eligible for Free Meals in Child Nutrition Progr

Memo Information

Memo Number
Memo Date
Memo Type
Fiscal & Administrative Services
Regulatory Authority
Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (the Act), Public Law 111-296
Response Required
Co-op Directors; Elementary Principals; High School Principals; Middle School Principals; Secondary Principals; Superintendents; Child Nutrition Directors and

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Memo Text

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Actof 2010 (the Act),Public Law 111-296, provides categorical eligibility for free meals to foster children.  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) memorandum SP 17-2011, CACFP 08-2011, SFSP 05-2011, provides guidance on implementing this new regulation.   Section 102 of the Act amends Section 9(b)(12)(A) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (NSLA) to provide categorical eligibility for free meals, without further application. A foster child is a child age 18 and under whose care and placement is the responsibility of the State or who is placed by a court with a caretaker household.    The Act amends Section 9(b)(5) of the NSLA to allow certification of a foster child for free meals, without application. When the local educational agency (LEA) obtains documentation from an appropriate State or local agency indicating the status of a child as a foster child, the LEA will automatically certify the child as eligible for free meals. Since this provision of the law was retroactive back to October 2010, any child designated as a foster child last year is in effect considered a foster child for school year 2011-12 as long as the court continues the placement of the child with a caretaker household.   It is important to note that these provisions only apply to foster children formally placed by a State child welfare agency or a court. They do not apply to informal arrangements that may exist outside of State or court based systems.   Effective immediately LEAs should implement this change for returning foster children or for any new foster children identified by foster agencies or who are identified during the remainder of this school year.    To obtain a list of foster students in the district, that meet the definition of Foster Child Status which is on page 134 in the 2011-2012 Statewide Information System manual, the APSCN SMS person can create an advanced query or create a Cognos report to pull the foster students from Demographics using the person living with code of T (foster parents).   Changes to Application Process   This change to allow categorical eligibility for free meals for foster children necessitates changes in the way free and reduced price applications are handled. Previously, a separate application for free and reduced price meals was submitted for a foster child who was considered a household of one.     Now, the foster child is categorically eligible and may be certified without an application. Households with foster and non-foster children may choose to include the foster child as a household member, as well as any personal income earned by the foster child, on the same household application that includes their non-foster children. This will streamline the application process and may help the foster family’s non-foster children qualify for free or reduced price meals based on household size and income.    In processing the application, the local educational agency (LEA) would certify the foster child for free meals, and then make an eligibility determination for the remainder of the household. This household determination is based on the family size and household’s income (including personal income earned by the foster child, i.e. part-time job, etc.) or other categorical eligibility information reported on the application (such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits). As before, foster payments received by the family from the placing agency are not considered income and do not need to be reported. Please note that the presence of a foster child in the household doesnot convey eligibility for free meals to all children in the household in the same manner as SNAP participation does.    Link to Foster Children Categorical Eligibility Q&A on website.    


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